Review ~ Blog Tour ~ The Closer I Get by Paul Burston

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A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological, social-media thriller from the bestselling author of The Black Path

.Tom is a successful author, but he’s struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone. Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her father and her social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has. When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing. But things aren’t really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on. A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk just one ‘like’ away…

Review

I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.

Psychological thrillers should by anyone definition be thrilling, make you feel on edge and rack up the tension as you read.

I’d like to share a little story, to show how from page one, this novel does all this and more. I started The Closer I Get in the waiting room of the Doctors surgery. Just routine tests I have all the time, nothing to worry about, yet this time after a few pages of this superb book, my blood pressure was up, when normally it’s fine. Relax the nurse suggested, think nice thoughts. I desperately tried not to think of the chilling opening of the book, but still it was too high for her liking, so I thought nice, non stakerish and whoopie it was back to normal. This book seriously leaves you on edge and that is backed up by my practice nurse!

Move to the following Saturday. There I am sitting quietly in my garden and bam, the tension ramps up to another level. I could’t help it, I exclaimed loudly, OMG, F**k! Not sure what my neighbours thought, but if they had asked, I’d have told them, this book is amazing, its unnerving and I just didn’t want to put it down. It really is the perfect illustration of the often touted description on book covers that loudly proclaim ‘edge of your seat reading’. Now I love my brother and niece, but when they knocked the door that Saturday (I still have no idea why they didn’t use their key), when I only had 15% left to read, for a millisecond, I actually considered not answering the door! I just wanted to read on and on.

That’s how good this book is, it’s like being embraced in your worst nightmare, except you have a get out clause, this is not your life, for Tom it is and you feel like you’re teetering on the edge with him.

The story itself is the perfect depiction of the seedier side of social media and its power to shock, is because anyone of us, by one random like on a post, could be caught up in this nightmare. The writer gives us the perfect depiction about obsession, exploitation and the downsides to living a life open to all on social media. Tom, who is neither perfect, or always likeable, becomes the victim of an online troll, a young women, who comes to believe she is closer to him than she really is. This obsession comes to affect both his physical and mental health. But is Tom’s sometimes questionable decision making, the course of this, or is Evie delusional, insecure and damaged, the real victim in all this? Throughout the book, my mind was changed, as the clever writing wharped my initial perceptions of what is actually going on and I changed my mind about who the real victim was!

When so many are telling us that creating an online presence is essential to our personal brand, this book is a powerful, exciting and relevant depiction of living a life in an age of all consuming social media.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones.

About the author

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Paul Burston is the author of five novels and the editor of two short story collections. His most recent novel ‘The Black Path’, was longlisted for the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize 2016 and was a bestseller at WH Smith. His first novel, ‘Shameless’, was shortlisted for the State of Britain Award. His third novel, ‘Lovers & Losers’ was shortlisted for a Stonewall Award. His fourth, ‘The Gay Divorcee’, was optioned for television. He was a founding editor of Attitude magazine and has written for many publications including The GuardianThe IndependentTime OutThe Times and The Sunday Times. In March 2016, he was featured in the British Council’s #FiveFilms4Freedom Global List 2016, celebrating “33 visionary people who are promoting freedom, equality and LGBT rights around the world”. He is the founder and host of London’s award-winning LGBT+ literary salon Polari and founder and chair of The Polari First Book Prize for new writing.

You can follow the author on Twitter

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Extract ~ Blog Tour ~ The Kompromat Kill by Michael Jenkins.

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They were preparing for decades – now it’s time to take them down. When a British Diplomat is kidnapped in the heart of London, followed by a brutal double-assassination in Chelsea, MI5 braces for the threat of deep sleeper cells coming alive. Hiding overseas with a price on his head, Sean Richardson is tasked to lead a deniable operation to hunt down and recruit an international model and spy. Moving across Asia Minor and Europe, Sean embarks on a dangerous journey tracking an Iranian spy ring who hold the keys to a set of consequences the British Intelligence Services would rather not entertain. As Sean investigates deeper, he uncovers dark secrets from his past and a complex web of espionage spun from the hand of a global master spy. As he inches closer to the truth, the rules of the game change – and the nerve-wracking fate of many lives sits in his hands…….…….. Tense, absorbing, and insightful, The Kompromat Kill is a gripping thriller leaving you breathless at the pace of intrigue, cleverly unravelled in a dramatic finale.

The Kompromat Kill

Extract

I’m  delighted to welcome author Michael Jenkins to booksaremycwtches today. Here he introduces an extract from The Kompromat Kill.

This is a favourite scene of mine where Sean (the main character) meets up with Jack (Head of MI5 counter terrorist operations) to receive his mission. Jack is running a Russian double agent who is providing detailed intelligence on an Iranian model and spy. A woman called Nadege, who Sean is tasked to turn and recruit for the British Intelligence services. Sean is shocked at how Jack has been running a high-grade Russian spy, and even more shocked when he finds out the double agent had been tasked by his Russian spymasters to recruit a bomb disposal expert – for use by the Iranians. The Russians are supporting Nadege in her mission which requires someone with expert bomb making skills……….

‘Russia and Iran are our immediate threats,’ Jack stated. ‘Now, shall we start?’
Jack tapped a couple of buttons on the audio-visual console before a screen lowered itself at the end of the room, the lights dimmed automatically and a picture of a middle-aged man lit up the room. In his forties, Sean thought. Baby-faced appearance. He looked scared. The picture certainly gave that appearance. Sean could see it was a photograph taken by a surveillance team and it seemed to have been taken in London.
‘This is Sergei. A Russian GRU colonel who was a walk-in ten months ago.’
‘Bloody hell. A live walk-in. To where?’
‘A rural police station in Sussex. He covered his tracks well enough. He’s the GRU lead officer for their illegals programme. A massive catch.’
Sean sat forward and leant on the table in astonishment. The last time he had met a Russian sleeper agent, a woman called Natalie, she’d nearly killed him in a shootout in France. ‘An incredibly lucky catch I’d say. Is he kosher?’
‘He is. I’ve made sure he is by running him myself. I’ve used him on a few operations to make sure he’s not swinging both ways and, so far, he’s come out clean. He’s ready to trust now and we’ll provide him with full defection status once we get what we need from him. A deal we agreed on.’
Sean smiled, rubbed his chin and sipped his coffee, using two hands around his cup. ‘You’ve been plotting again Jack. This bloke better be one hundred percent legitimate, else I’m out.’
‘Well, you can judge him for yourself. You’re about to meet him. He’s sitting outside.’
Jack pressed a button on the console and the door opened. Sergei walked in accompanied by a chaperone, a tall brunette who looked more like a professor than an intelligence officer.
‘Sergei, this is Sean, a good friend of mine,’ Jack said, pouring water for both of them. Neither man stood to shake hands. Sean didn’t feel it was necessary, and a respectful nod sealed the introductions. Nothing more was said but an unspoken connection was made between the two men.
Sean wondered why on earth a senior GRU officer had handed himself in to MI5 after running sleeper agents for Mother Russia probably for a decade or more. The risk to his life if he was caught was immense.
‘Sergei, can you let Sean know about the mission you’ve been working on please?’
A pause. Then a wry smile from Sergei before he started to talk in immaculate English, with no sign of an accent. ‘I was instructed by Moscow to find a bomb-maker in Britain.’ He stopped abruptly, turning to Jack to check he had permission to carry on. Jack gave an indiscernible nod. ‘Not just any old bomb-maker,’ Sergei continued. ‘An ex-military one. An expert who could make the most complex of explosive devices.’

You can purchase this novel from Amazon UK and Amazon US

You can also enter a Giveaway to Win 5 copies of The Kompromat Kill (Open INT)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Enter by following this LINK.

About the author

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I started climbing at 13, survived being lost in Snowdonia at 14, nearly drowned at 15, and then joined the Army at 16. Risk and adventure was built into my DNA and I feel very fortunate to have served the majority of my working career as an intelligence officer within Defence Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal Engineers.  I was privileged to serve for twenty-eight years in the British Army as a soldier and officer, rising through the ranks to complete my service as a major. I served across the globe on numerous military operations as well as extensive travel and adventure on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that I led or was involved in. I was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for mountain exploration in 2003 and served on the screening committee of the Mount Everest Foundation charity for many years. It was humbling after so many years of service when I was awarded the MBE for services to counter-terrorism in 2007. The Failsafe Query is my debut novel, with The Kompromat Kill, my second.

You can follow the author on Twitter and Facebook

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Books that inspired my love of reading ~ The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff

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The Ninth Legion marched into the mists of northern Britain – and they were never seen again.

Four thousand men disappeared and their eagle standard was lost. It’s a mystery that’s never been solved, until now . . .

Marcus has to find out what happened to his father, who led the legion. So he sets out into the unknown, on a quest so dangerous that nobody expects him to return.

The Eagle of the Ninth is heralded as one of the most outstanding children’s books of the twentieth century and has sold over a million copies worldwide. Rosemary Sutcliff writes with such passion and attention to detail that Roman Britain is instantly brought to life and stays with the reader long after the last page has been turned. The book is also now the subject of a major film.

Review

It was when I was thinking about the books that really inspired my love of reading as a child and young adult, that I thought about writing a short series of reviews based around them! To remind myself in a time when the world seems to be full of anger, the reason why reading became my cwtch, my safe place and remains so.

I was already a keen reader when I read Rosemary Sutcliff ‘s The Eagle of the Ninth, but reading this novel transformed me into a passionate reader. For me this story about a Roman Legion lost in the mists of time, was the forerunner of another much loved series of books Simon Scarrow’s, Cato and Macro’s novels, which started with Under the Eagle.

I loved the sense of history that filled the The Eagle of the Ninth and the tension that built up around the fate of a legion and Marcu’s quest not only to retrieve the lost eagle, but to discover the fate of his father. My childhood mind became utterly absorbed in the sense of adventure and I was transported back to Roman Britain. In the moments I was reading, the real world faded from view and I was there amongst the Roman legions and enveloped in the mists of Celtic Scotland.

This was the first time I really felt that dislocation from the real world and was utterly absorbed in the story. I had read plenty of books before this, but this was a defining moment in my reading life. As a result I read every book she had ever written and loved every single one.

If I had to list my favourite childhood writer, it would undoubtedly have been Rosemary Sutcliff. It went on to spark a love of historical fiction that is still with me, even though I don’t currently read a lot of this genre I would happily delve into it at anytime and I can trace it all back to picking The Eagle of the Ninth from the library bookshelf.

Having read it again as an adult, for me this book has stood up to the test of time, even within the exciting and blossoming genre of YA fiction. Even next to the J K Rawlings fabulous Harry Potter series, there should be a place for Rosemary Sutcliff’s novels. The same passion that J K Rawling generated in millions of young readers, Sutcliff inspired in me.

You can buy The Eagle of the Ninth from Waterstones and Amazon.

 

 

 

About the author

Born in 1920, she contracted the progressive wasting condition Stills disease. Spending most of her life in a wheelchair she trained as a painter of miniatures, before publishing her first children’s book in 1950; from this point in she devoted her time to writing.

You can learn more about the author on Rosemary Sutcliffe – Official Site and can find a list of her books on the Penguin Books website.

 

 

Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Base Cowboys by Mark Farrer

 

 

 

BASE COWBOYS is a comic crime trilogy set in the Scottish Borders. It is the sixth laugh-out-loud book in the CULLEN series written by Borders author Mark Farrer and will appeal to readers of Christopher Brookmyre, Carl Hiaasen, Nick Spalding or Tom Sharpe. The book tells the stories of three amoral ne’er-do-wells, their unfortunate and accidental intrusion into Cullen’s life, and the imaginative ways he finds of ensuring (his) justice is done:

Dirty Barry
The first casualty of adultery is… the tooth!
Barry Sullivan is a sordid dentist who resorts to blackmail to keep his string of married women in line. But now Cullen has toothache – and a very different interpretation of the dental code of practice.

Bronchial Billy
Meet Billy – the fastest gun in a vest.
Billy is a geriatric slum landlord desperate to win first prize in a Country & Western gunfight competition. But his trigger-happy birthday celebrations provoke Cullen, and now Billy must pay. Will he meet his High Noon at the Grand Ole Opry or will he go out with a bang? Whatever happens, there’s sure to be fireworks.

Pale Ale Rider
There’s trouble brewing…
Tyler is a teenage tearaway with the eyes of a serial killer. But when he decides to rob Big Paul’s local pub, he gets more than he bargained for. Will Tyler lose his bottle, or just get smashed? Cullen thinks he’s seen dead eyes like those before, and now he has a plan: he’s not bitter, he’s just a little twisted.

Review.

I would like to thank the author and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.
I wasn’t sure what I expected from this series of Novella’s, but I knew within pages of starting this collection that I was going to enjoy it.
Funny as hell in places, sad and emotional in others, they are packed with characters who entertain and whose company I really enjoyed.
It takes a completely different skill set from a writer to tell a whole story in this shortened novel form. Telling a well-rounded, satisfying read in a Novella means being concise in the use of language without making compromises in the story and characters and Mark Farrer delivers a very enjoyable mix of drama and top-notch characterisation.
All three have a common theme, there is a character who is bad, evil or selfish and then there is Cullen and his friend Big Paul who seem set to bring justice to anyone who needs teaching a hard lesson. It all felt kind of American western, which by the way I enjoyed watching as a kid, in that justice it meted out or is it. They all worked for me, because I couldn’t help but enjoy the theme of a bad guy/lady being made to face the consequences of their actions. Then there was Cullen a tragic loner, who lives off the grid. He is not a caricature though; Mark Farrer avoids that, by feeding us titbits about his life and the tragedy that leaves him alone, making him human and easy to love. On the other hand there is Big Paul, a little dim, but with a great big heart and together they form the perfect friendship, and partnership. They believe in good and justice, that makes them easy to love, and you cannot help rooting for them. They make the stories and ground them in that essential combination of great characters and a story about good against bad liberally littered with humour and a touch of pathos.
I have always loved Novella’s and this little group are the perfect addition to any reading pile, if you looking for a quick but fun set out reads.

You can purchase these from Amazon UK and Amazon US

About the author

Mark Farrer

Mark Farrer is the author of six comedy novels and novellas, each set in the Scottish Borders with a distinctive Scottish backdrop – whether salmon farming, textile mills, Rugby Sevens or the Scottish criminal justice system. His books are multi-stranded storylines involving larger-than-life characters, whose plans and incompetence inevitably exceed their wits. All feature an itinerant loner, Cullen, who lives off the grid and finds himself inadvertently drawn into someone’s crazy scheme, only for his own (very individual) sense of right and wrong to be offended. That’s generally when things start to go wronger.

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Extract ~ Blog Tour ~ Smoke In Her Eyes by Anna Belfrage.

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Six months ago, Helle Madsen would have described herself as normal. Now she no longer knows if that terms applies, not after her entire life has been turned upside down by the reappearance of not one, but two, men from her very, very distant past.
Helle Madsen never believed in mumbo-jumbo stuff like reincarnation—until she came face to face with Jason Morris, a man who purportedly had spent fifty lives looking for her. Coping with being reunited with the lover from her ancient past was one thing. Having Sam Woolf, her vindictive nemesis from that same ancient past join the party was a bit too much. Suddenly, Helle finds herself the reluctant heroine of a far-flung, time-transcending epic story, one in which pain and loss seem to play a very big part.
This time round, Jason and Helle are determined to make it to the happily ever after. Unfortunately, Sam Woolf will stop at nothing to crush them. That ride into the golden sunset seems awfully far away at times…

Extract

Halfway through their meal, Nigel rang.
“We’re eating. Can I call you back?” Jason had the phone on loudspeaker.
“No. Turn on the telly. Now!” Nigel uttered a string of invectives that made Helle gape. Jason stretched for the remote; moments later, the TV lit up.
“…as we reported earlier, the London businessman Percy Wilkinson was found dead this morning. Mr Wilkinson was currently on vacation when the bungalow he shared with his family burst into flames.”
“Accident, you think?” Nigel asked sarcastically. Helle stared at the screen, trying to make sense of the words “unexpected blockage to the door”, “restrained” and “inexplicable”. The spokesperson went on to say that Mr Wilkinson’s wife was shocked but alive, as was their daughter.
“Do you think…” Helle swallowed back the rest of the question. People didn’t end up tied to chairs while their bungalow burnt to ashes by accident. “Woolf?” she said instead. Poor, poor Percy! Her stomach heaved, as she imagined Percy in his favourite pin-striped suit, peering at his attacker over his bifocals while begging for his life.
“Who else?” Jason replied. “Punishment for selling him out.”
“Oh my God,” Helle groaned, covering her face with her hands. “This is my fault! If I hadn’t—”
“No.” Jason cut her off. “This is not your fault, lioness. Percy knew Woolf, knew he was taking a risk. He took the decision to make a deal with us, not you.”
“But—”
“That’s not all,” Nigel interrupted. “I’ve just sent you a link.”
Sam Woolf had finally broken his silence. In a black suit, a crisp shirt and black tie, he looked sombre, his dark hair framing a pale face in which the eyes looked darker than normal. He’d lost weight, Helle concluded, and those beautifully sculpted lips were set in a tight line, as if he was gritting his teeth. He turned to face the journalist, and the four parallel grooves she’d marked him with glowed an angry red. She couldn’t tear her eyes away from the claw marks, surprised that they should still be so unhealed, several months after their confrontation at Netley Abbey.
Helle curled her fingers and stared down at her hand. She’d done that, even if she had no memory of doing so. Her fingers, her nails, had left Woolf looking as if he’d confronted a big cat.
“Apt,” Jason muttered, pulling her down to sit in his lap. “In that first life, one of your tame lions marked him just like that—the night you fled from him.” The night Woolf had tried to take her by force, laughing as he told her that in spite of her royal father, Samion of Kolchis had no intention of making Helle his consort but she’d serve him well as an obedient concubine.
“So you’re saying all these accusations are unfounded?” The journalist sounded polite and remote, eyes intent on Woolf who was sitting on a bright red sofa.
“Of course.” Woolf’s voice was as smooth as always—velvet with a rasp. “I don’t know how, but someone has planted all this so called incriminating evidence in my computer system.”
“You’ll excuse me for saying that sounds like a very weak explanation,” the journalist said, shuffling his papers. “Photos, lists of girls, of their…umm…talents, records of expected deliveries, of meetings in the middle of the night…”
“None of it has anything to do with me,” Woolf snapped.
“No?” The journalist held up a photo, showing a male hand wearing a ring stamped with a wolf’s head. The hand was covering a girl’s mouth.
Woolf laughed. “Really, Henry,” he said, smoothing the fabric of his pants. “I don’t have to resort to violence to get laid.” He sat back, arms spread out along the sofa’s back, and Helle could imagine thousands of women nodding in agreement, eyes feasting on this perfect specimen of the human male. Even the ugly scars enhanced the sheer physicality of him.
“So you’ve never had violent sex?” Henry asked.
Woolf’s angular brows rose slightly. “I didn’t say that, did I? But I can assure you my partners have never said no.”
“I bet they never got the chance to do so,” Nigel muttered, his voice tinny on the phone.
“So what will your next step be?” Henry asked.
“To prove my innocence.” Woolf turned the full force of his eyes on the camera. Helle’s head began to ring, her throat narrowing until it became difficult to breathe. Those eyes, eating into her…Woolf raised two fingers to his ruined face. “And to punish the bastards who’ve torn my reputation to shreds.”
Helle gulped. Jason’s arms tightened round her waist.
“Punish, Mr Woolf?” Henry drawled.
“A figure of speech,” Woolf said with a shrug. He spread his legs and smiled at the camera. Sex on legs. Dangerous, destructive sex on legs, but should Woolf need to, he’d have the female members of a jury eating out of his hands in seconds. And, to judge from the pink tone of Henry’s cheeks, quite a few men.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon

About the author

Anna Belfrage Author Picture

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does not exist, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. These days, Anna combines an exciting day-job with a large family and her writing endeavours.  Her first series, The Graham Saga, is set in 17th century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland. It tells the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him. With this heady blend of time-travel, romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy, Anna hopes to entertain and captivate, and is more than thrilled when readers tell her just how much they love her books and her characters. There are eight books in the series so far, but Anna is considering adding one or two more… Presently, Anna is hard at work with her next project, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The King’s Greatest Enemy is a series where passion and drama play out against a complex political situation, where today’s traitor may be tomorrow’s hero, and the Wheel of Fortune never stops rolling.  If you want to know more about Anna, why not visit her website, https://www.annabelfrage.com

You can follow her on her author Facebook page and Twitter

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Top Ten Favourite Books So Far in 2019

Well it’s hard to believe, but we’re half way through 2019 already!

I’ve been lucky to read some fantastic books this year so far and it was difficult to choose a top ten. It’s nice though, because I’ve been blessed with hours and hours of reading pleasure.

These are in no particular order, because I loved them all for different reasons.

Circe by Madeline Miller

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I was really nervous  about reading this novel, having loved, no adored beyond reason A Song for Achillies! I need not have worried, because Circe is wonderful.

Expectation by Anna Hope

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This book is a stunning look at friendship and the expectations we have about what our lives will be. It really deserves all the praise it’s getting.

The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola

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This book is one of the best historical novels I have read. Full of strong female characters and chilling at its core. I can’t wait to read more from this author.

Star Girl by Louise Beech

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What can I say other than this novel is yet another triumph by Louise Beech. She is a writer whose seems able to write in any genre. Star Girl is a psychological thriller, flawless and oozing with nerve wracking moments of tension.

Those We Loved by Victoria Hislop

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Another favourite author who has delivered a stunning new novel. I enjoyed this story about one of the most turbulent period in Greek history.

Tainted Love by T S Hunter

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This superb novella is perfectly formed.  Featuring lead LGBT characters, it’s a fantastic thriller and I can’t wait to start the next one.

Breakers by Doug Johnstone

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This is a fantastic read, that has a strong character driven storyline. I loved the way it looked at the roots of criminal behaviour and was both and emotional and tension filled read.

Welcome to Heady Heights by David Ross

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I’m still amazed how this book, made me laugh, cry a little and left me wishing I could read it again for the first time.

A Modern Family by Helga Flatland

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This character driven story about three siblings should be celebrated as a classic of modern literature.

The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby

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This was one of the first books I read this year, that it still features strongly in my favourite books this year, is a mark of how great a read it is!

I wonder if any of these books will feature in my final top reads of 2019 at the end of this year?

Blog Tour ~Review ~ Expectation by Anna Hope

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Hannah, Cate and Lissa are young, vibrant and inseparable. Living on the edge of a common in East London, their shared world is ablaze with art and activism, romance and revelry – and the promise of everything to come. They are electric. They are the best of friends.

Ten years on, they are not where they hoped to be. Amidst flailing careers and faltering marriages, each hungers for what the others have. And each wrestles with the same question: what does it take to lead a meaningful life?

Review

I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.

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Occasionally I read a book that reminds me why reading means so much to me. Much as that special song comes to represent to others an event or moment in their lives, it’s reading that has always defined the stages of my life.

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It’s not that you haven’t enjoyed the other books you have read, but some books just speak to you with an exquisite tenderness and Expectation is one of those books.

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It is a quietly told story about friendship, love, loss, hope and redemption. It is also about the expectations we have of our lives when we move from the innocence of childhood, into the heady embrace of adulthood; how a life once so full of expectation, can crash on the reality of unsatisfying marriages and careers, yet also thrive on hope and resilence.

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There is so much to adore about this book, from the perfect characterisation, to the brilliance of the story and the intimate depiction of the friendship between Hannah, Cate and Lissa. Anna Hope in her first contemporary novel takes their relationships and weaves them into the very fabric of the story, giving a masterclass on how to write about about love and friendship and the very thin line that divides the two. For me the emotional connection between myself and these three women felt real, almost as if I was there in the moment, so vibrant were they. I’m extremely lucky to have a group of close female friends and reading this book gave me an insight into what happens when those connections become frayed. The emotions felt raw, the hurt tangible and friendships powerful and enduring.

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It’s the power of the storytelling that I loved so much. My heart felt wretched for them all one moment and the next it sang in happiness for all they were and could still be. It gave voice to how I imagine my life would be shattered without those bonds of female friendship that sustain me and give me the strength to endure.  It gives voice to the way friendships alter over time, buffeted by the ebb and flow of a tide of emotions and events that are part of lifes natural cycle. All three of the main characters, represent all the women we each know and when they feel pain, when they feel joy, we feel it with them. The power of this novel for me, lies in the normality of their lives and ultimately how it voices the oft ignored idea, that as women, it’s okay to  we can decide what a meaningful life means to us.

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I read on one of the reviews for Expectation by Erin Kelly, that this is a generation defining book, a sentiment I want to shout from the roof tops. All of Anna Hope’s books are defined by the quality of the writing, the quiet power of the story, the richness of the characterisation and Expectation is this and much more. It is for me her best book yet, in which she surely should be lauded as having reached the top of the literary ladder.

You can purchase Expectation from Amazon and Waterstones

 

About the author.

Anna Hope Author Picture

ANNA HOPE studied at Oxford University and RADA. Her contemporary fiction debut, Expectation, explores themes of love, lust, motherhood, and feminism, while asking the greater question of what defines a generation. She lives in Sussex with her husband and young daughter.

You can follow Anna Hope on Twitter

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Excerpt ~ Blog Tour ~ The Awakening Aten by Aidan K.Morrissey

The Awakening Aten Cover

The Awakening Aten envelops the reader in an Egypt of whispers and fears, of webs within webs, deceit upon deceit. Its themes of murder, intrigue, political and religious conflict, corruption, tomb robbing, war and executions are set against a background of fundamental ideological change.
Ancient Egypt is seen through the eyes of two families; one royal, the other commoner. Yuya, whose tomb is in the Valley of the Kings, is a foreigner who rises from slavery to become Regent to an infant Pharaoh and thus, the most powerful man in the world’s wealthiest empire. His children and descendants will remain at the very heart of the country’s destiny. Kha is a tomb painter and builder who experiences both the despair of imprisonment and the horror of war. As Overseer of the King’s Works he restores the Great Sphinx, and inscribes the ‘Dream Stela’ placed between its paws, still visible today. Through tragic and deathly events his family and that of Yuya become entwined.
This is the fictional tale of real people, whose possessions and artefacts can be seen in museums throughout the world. It gives a voice to those people, inspired by their personal items, buried with them 3,000 years ago.

I’m delighted to welcome author Aidan K. Morrissey with an excerpt from his novel The Awakening Aten. 

This is near the beginning of Chapter 12, and is where we first meet Nahkt.
Nahkts work, relieving the dead of their wealth, started during the reign of the old King Thutmose IV. The cost of constructing and decorating his own tomb on the west bank of the river, in the site reserved for noblemen, was proving expensive. He wanted the best for himself and Tawy, his much younger wife, a renowned chantress in the cult of Amun. They may not have been of exalted rank in this life but he would ensure that in the afterlife they would be well prepared and provisioned.
Turning right, then left and left again, in what might appear as random changes, he finally arrived, sweating, outside a larger than normal house, the size of which was disguised by the surrounding buildings.
Nahkt entered the house and climbed the staircase to the open roof area. His appointment was with the man now sitting on a long couch in a corner of the rooftop. He was being served food and wine by two young naked serving girls. He was dressed in a long colourless gown but each of his fingers was adorned by gold and silver rings. Around his neck was a gold necklace worth more than Nahkt could possibly imagine.
Khonsu, you will get us both killed, what in the name of Amun are you doing?
Drinking wine and eating goose like royalty. What is the matter with you Nahkt?
He smiled at Nahkt. It was not a pretty sight. Only two teeth were visible, his gums blackened by disease.
You cant display such wealth if anyone sees you, questions will be asked. The answers wont be welcomed by the police or soldiers.
Relax priest. No-one can see me and I like to enjoy the spoils for a while, until we melt it all down.
These two girls can see you do they not have tongues?
Oh yes they do but they know if they ever use those tongues in a way which does not please me, they can be removed along with their eyes.
His left hand moved to his side and he picked up a large blade and licked the sharp side whilst staring at the younger of the two serving girls. Revulsion and fear filled her eyes. Nahkt vowed it was time to find a new business partner.
Do you have the plans? Nahkt tried to suppress his anger.
I have what was agreed, do you?
Nahkt nodded towards one of his bodyguards who produced a large pouch from under his robe.
This is what was agreed.
Agreed maybe, but no longer enough.
Khonsu was grinning, or at least his mouth was open in what might have been a grin.
Dont play games with me Khonsu, what was agreed is agreed. Its there in front of you. Dont make me angry.
This is no game oh mighty Nahkt. What I have for you is the route to unimaginable riches. Its worth a little more than we discussed. Let me have the pouch which is hidden under the robe of that other servant of yours. Oh my, he is such a beautiful boy for a Nubian.
Let me see what you have first, said Nahkt.
Khonsu leaned forward and retrieved, from under the couch, a rolled papyrus. Nahkt moved forward to take it. Khonsu pulled it away.
Oh no, Nahkt, like with these new wives of mine you can look and lust after but not touch until you pay. He opened the papyrus roll and Nahkt could make out the drawings and the map.
How do I know this is what you claim it to be?
Have I ever deceived you before? This has come from the grandson of the man responsible for the tombs sealing, its genuine.
Nahkt leaned forward to get a closer look, it looked authentic and it could always be verified later. He smiled at Khonsu and spoke briefly to the Nubian guard whose beauty Khonsu had so admired. The Nubian moved his left hand under his robe and produced a pouch, identical to the one his brother had still in his hand. He dropped the pouch on the couch beside Khonsu, who reacted instinctively, trying to catch it. As he did so, the Nubian took the papyrus roll in his left hand and passed it behind him to the waiting hands of Nahkt. In the same move he drew a sword with his right hand and almost totally removed the head of the supine Khonsu.
The scream of one of the serving girls was halted quickly by his brothers blade. The second girl fell to her knees and grabbed the hem of Nahkts robe. The guard who had so smoothly dispatched the toothless Khonsu bent down and gently placed his hands on the girls shoulders. She tensed but then relaxed at the gentleness of his touch. Almost as a caress he moved one hand around her back to her throat and swiftly broke her neck. His master would not be happy if blood spattered his robe.
Search the house and bring anything of value.
Nahkt went down the mud stairs and stood in the doorway with the precious papyrus concealed safely inside his robe. He waited as the bodyguards removed the gold and jewellery from the recently departed Khonsu and his serving girls and searched the three downstairs rooms of the house. Certain nothing of value had been left, they stood behind Nahkt. With the gold and silver well hidden, the three walked calmly, but assuredly, away from the carnage above and made their way to the home of Nahkt.

About the author

Aidan-K-Morrissey-Author

I am of Irish heritage and was the first member of my immediate family to be born outside of Ireland. My professional life has caused me to travel the world. I am now looking forward to settling in the North East of England, to concentrate on writing.
A graduate in Law from Leicester University, after working for some years in a commercial environment, I qualified as a Solicitor in 1981.
My career developed in an unusual way and I have lived and worked at various times in Italy, Brazil, the United States, India and Germany.
I have always had a love and fascination for history. A holiday in Egypt sparked a particular passion for Ancient Egypt, especially the latter part of the 18th Dynasty. A history, which Pharaoh Horemeb (Djeser-Kheperu-Ra circa 1319-1292 BCE) tried to destroy and which only came to light following the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922.
‘The Awakening Aten’ is the culmination of many years of research.
I have built up a substantial collection of academic books and novels on Ancient Egypt, its customs, traditions and daily life. I am fortunate to have been able to visit all of the major museums containing artefacts from Egypt throughout the world, as well as spending months in Egypt itself studying the funereal valleys and other sites. All of this supplemented by internet research.
This novel is the first in a plannned five book series, looking at the fictional lives of real people through a period of major political and religious change, spanning approximately 130 years.
My hobbies are reading, which I enjoy as much as I do writing, and taking bracing walks along the North East Coast and in the Northumberland Hills.

You can follow the author on Twitter

The Awakening Aten BT Poster

Review – Blog Tour – The Anglesey Murder by Conrad Jones

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DI Alan Williams is called to the recovery of two bodies from the sea at Trearddur Bay, during a storm. The lifeboat crew suspect they’re fishermen, washed away by a wave but they’re wrong. Alan and his detective sergeant, Kim Davies, realise the men were beaten and tied together before they entered the water. Two miles along the headland at Porth Dafarch, a third victim is found but there are no obvious links. As the number of victims increases, a major investigation team battles to unravel a deadly puzzle which, appears to have links to a series of historic murders from the 90’s.
In 1995, Peter Moore owned and operated the cinema in Holyhead. It is thought he assaulted over 40 men and he was arrested and charged with four murders, which he’d committed in as many months. He was jailed for life in 1996 and is still the only recorded Welsh serial killer. Fast forward to today and Detective Inspector Alan Williams is investigating a series of murders with uncanny similarities to the Peter Moore attacks. Is there a copycat on the loose or are the murders connected to the local underworld, which controls the supply of narcotics across North Wales and the North West? Finding a motive, is the challenge he might not win. ALL THE TIME THEY’RE TRACKING THE KILLER, THE KILLER IS STALKING THEM…
Review
I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC of this novel in return for an honest review.
I’m going to start this review by saying, I have by reading The Anglesey Murders,  found a new favourite author.
It is both exciting and very enjoyable to read; I’d have read it in one sitting, if not for life intervening, because I didn’t want to put it down. I wasn’t even really aware of the passing of time, because it was so engrossing.
More than once my I found myself saying out loud, oh my god as the twisted and evil killer of the story, did something that really shocked me. I felt a real dread when I realised he was stalking the police and I actually felt a compulsion to warn them and had to keep reminding myself it was fiction, because it felt so plausible. Truly what makes this such edge of the seat reading, was the fact it all could happen, that a killer as twisted as this, could stalk the streets of any British town.  With each chapter the tension is ramped up and I went from not wanting to put it down, to being almost to scared to read on, but I did because I had to know who survived.
The killer himself sent shivers down my spine and set my nerves on edge.  He really is the epitome of evil. Perfectly written with layers of self obession, lack of humanity and he is cold and callous. I still find myself unable to think of his actions without shivering.
Without a doubt it’s one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year and I’ve read quite a few great ones!
You can purchase this novel from Amazon
Author Bio:
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Conrad Jones a 52-year-old Author, living in Holyhead, Anglesey, which I class as my home, before starting a career as a trainee manger with McDonalds Restaurants in 1989. I worked in management at McDonalds Restaurants Ltd from 1989-2002, working my way up to Business Consultant (area manager) working in the corporate and franchised departments.
In March 1993 I was managing the Restaurant in Warrington`s Bridge St when two Irish Republican Army bombs exploded directly outside the store, resulting in the death of two young boys and many casualties. Along with hundreds of other people there that day I was deeply affected by the attack, which led to a long-term interest in the motivation and mind set of criminal gangs. I began to read anything crime related that I could get my hands on.
I link this experience with the desire to write books on the subject, which came much later due to an unusual set of circumstances. Because of that experience my early novels follow the adventures of an elite counter terrorist unit, The Terrorist Task Force, and their leader, John Tankersley, or `Tank`and they are the Soft Target Series, which have been described by a reviewer as ‘Reacher on steroids’.
I had no intentions of writing until 2007, when I set off on an 11-week tour of the USA. The Day before I boarded the plane, Madeleine Mcann disappeared and all through the holiday I followed the American news reports which had little or no information about her. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the terrible kidnap would inspire my book, The Child Taker years later. During that trip, I received news that my house had been burgled and my work van and equipment were stolen. That summer was the year when York and Tewksbury were flooded by a deluge and insurance companies were swamped with claims. They informed me that they couldn’t do anything for weeks and that returning home would be a wasted journey. Rendered unemployed on a beach in Clearwater, Florida, I decided to begin my first book, Soft Target. I have never stopped writing since. I have recently completed my 20th novel, The Journey, something that never would have happened but for that burglary and my experiences in Warrington.
As far as my favourite series ever, it has to be James Herbert’s, The Rats trilogy. The first book did for me what school books couldn’t. It fascinated me, triggered my imagination and gave me the hunger to want to read more. I waited years for the second book, The Lair, and Domain, the third book to come out and they were amazing. Domain is one of the best books I have ever read. In later years, Lee Child, especially the early books, has kept me hypnotised on my sunbed on holiday as has Michael Connelley and his Harry Bosch Series.
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